Tag Archives: Democrats

About that Democratic Vacancy at the County Board of Elections

8 Oct

1. Somebody somewhere writes that the position of Democratic Commissioner of the Board of Elections comes, “with a $135,000 annual salary and with no requirements to hold regular office hours.” False. The salary is closer to $105,000, and the hours take into account that the person is a professional and an executive of a large public organization. 

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

2. This same outlet claims that Tonawanda Democratic Committee Chair Gayle Syposs is “likely” to be the Democrats’ pick. False. Syposs is not likely to be the Democrats’ pick.  It’s more likely to be Champ Eve or Mike Keane, and all of it is subject to an executive committee meeting that will likely take place in late October (it must be within 30 days of the Dennis Ward vacancy), and then subject to county legislative approval. 

Facts are sometimes easy to just look up. 

Buffalopundit Endorsements: NYS Primary Day Sept 9th

8 Sep

Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough! 

Tuesday September 9th is primary day throughout New York State. Here are the races people are watching in western New York, and my comments and picks for each.  As always, these choices are mine alone and do not constitute an endorsement by Artvoice or any of its staff. They are not predictions, but preferences. 

Governor and Lieutenant Governor: Democratic Party

Zephyr Teachout and Kathy Hochul

I wrote about it with some detail at this link.  Andrew Cuomo seems more interested in an historically wide margin of victory than in dealing with the corruption that rots the core of New York State politics. Practically every problem with state, regional, or local policy and politics that you can imagine stem at least indirectly from some form of petty corruption. Until and unless someone in Albany has the guts to do what’s right, this will continue to harm and haunt every New Yorker, from Montauk to Niagara. When given a chance to undertake a profile in courage vis-a-vis corrupt Albany politics, Andrew Cuomo’s response was an epic profile in cowardice. He didn’t just punt – he forfeited.  

Despite all the good he’s done for the state in general and WNY in particular, given a choice in this race at this time between Cuomo and Teachout, I have to go with the political neophyte with the funny name and upstate ignorance. She recognizes what the problem is, and pledges to do something about it. Cuomo told us he knew what the problem was, and he told us he was going to do something about it, but in the end he chose an on-time budget deal with Skelos and Silver over the people. 

As for Lieutenant Governor, @superwuster doesn’t know anything about upstate or WNY, nor does he care to educate himself. Those reasons alone would be enough to pick Kathy Hochul to take the #2 slot. 

State Senate: 60th District: Republican Party

Mark Grisanti

Mark Grisanti is controversial because he takes risks and votes his conscience. Grisanti is detested on the right for his votes in favor of same-sex marriage, and the NY SAFE Act. He is being attacked from the right by the likes of the tea party, and from the left by NYSUT’s PAC, which is backing likely Democratic challenger Marc Panepinto. NYSUT figures that it can throw some shade at Grisanti and help Stocker win the nomination, and that this will make the November race easier for Panepinto. I’m not a big fan of disingenuousness like that, but hey – it’s politics. I respect Grisanti because he sticks his neck out to do what he thinks is right – not just for his constituents, but for the state in general. 

State Senate: 60th District: Democratic Party

Marc Panepinto

Panepinto over Al Coppola should be a no-brainer, even with the former’s past election law issues. Al Coppola most recently gained notoriety for his brave opposition to any Peace Bridge expansion, etc., but prior to that he helped get Antoine Thompson elected to the State Senate by pulling votes away from Marc Coppola. So, even Panepinto’s reported alliance with Steve Pigeon is a minor issue because no one’s sabotaging any Democrats today. 

State Senate: 62nd District: Republican Party

Robert Ortt

Mostly because Gia Arnold showed herself to be woefully unready for prime time with her cheating non-scandal, abrupt withdrawal, and silly re-entry. Ortt is a serious candidate with a serious job. Arnold is an inexperienced and unserious candidate who has, in her very short political life, displayed breathtaking immaturity, and she’s running a one-issue campaign on guns. The winner of this race will face Democrat Johnny Destino, who, like Ortt, is a serious adult person. 

State Senate: 63rd District: Democratic Party

Betty Jean Grant

Given his behavior over the last few years, incumbent Tim Kennedy has a lot of shit behavior to answer for. In 2010, he helped to spearhead a petty Republican coup of what should have been a Democratic majority during the last couple of years of Chris Collins’ tenure as County Executive. Kennedy conspired to hand control over to the Republicans, and the legislature effectively rubber-stamped anything Collins wanted during that time. More recently, Kennedy’s campaign funds provided over $85,000 to the “AwfulPAC” (a.k.a. “Progressive Caucus of WNY”) to defeat endorsed Democrats in primaries and hand races over to Republicans in order to embarrass Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Jeremy Zellner and hand control of the party – and patronage jobs – back over to people friendly with Steve Pigeon. 

If people want to get rid of Jeremy Zellner, then do what’s necessary to accomplish that goal. But if you sabotage the party and Democratic candidates, and help Republicans, you’re doing it wrong.  Tim Kennedy has been doing it wrong, and Betty Jean has been doing it right. In fact, Betty Jean was the stalwart during the legislative coup – calling Kennedy and his henchmen out publicly and relentlessly. She is a warrior for what’s right, and for her constituents. She deserves this. 

New York State Assembly: 141: Democratic Party

Crystal Peoples-Stokes

Seriously, you’d vote for Antoine Thompson? What is it with the political herpes, coming back every few years to make WNYers feel uncomfortable and itchy? Remember how two years ago, Chuck Swanick went gunning for Mark Grisanti by trying to capture the homophobe vote? Now deadbeat extraordinaire Antoine Thompson returns from a cushy city exile to try and weasel his way back into elected office. Do not forget that Thompson was an Albany pol for a few years, and rather widely regarded to be just awful. Don’t believe me? Here’s something I wrote in 2012, when the city hired Thompson:

What can’t be forgotten in this instance is that Antoine Thompson’s tenure in the state senate was pockmarked with scandal. There was the bizarre  junket to Jamaica, where Thompson claimed to be on a trade missionpaid for with campaign funds. During the short-lived and wildly corrupt Democratic leadership of the state senate, Thompson’s behavior became brazen and strange. He got his staff to lie for him, had been accused of accepting money in exchange for influence on Racino management, and developed a reputation for being thought of as a statewide laughingstock.  He stiffed groups that relied on his member item handouts.  In his own life, Thompson stiffed his creditors to the tune of $5,700.  Thompson gave $1000 to the legal defense fund for convicted fraudster and woman-slasher Hiram Monseratte.

Thompson arranged for a $400,000 subsidy to Howard Milstein’s Niagara Falls Redevelopment, an outfit run by a billionaire chairman of the Thruway Authority that has redeveloped absolutely nothing. When Thompson suffered a minor pulled-muscle injury in a car crash and discovered that he wasn’t hurt enough to meet the tort threshold and file a personal injury suit, he tried to change the law

Then there was this:

They claimed to have nobody on staff called John Taylor. They said the Albany staffer is Shawn Curry, a recent hire as a legislative assistant.

So who is John Taylor? That’s what we wanted to know. So we called him up.

The Post: “Hi, is this John Taylor?”

“Yes”

The Post: ” But isn’t your name really Shawn Curry? And if so why are you giving out a fake name from the Senator’s office?”

“Could you hold please . . .[in the same voice] This is Shawn Curry.”

The Post: “Why are you using a fake name from the Senator’s office, Shawn?”

“I am very busy, I have business to attend to, I can’t answer your question.”

Antoine Thompson’s political aspirations should be little more than a punch line, regardless of his opponent’s merits. 

New York State Assembly: 143: Democratic Party

Camille Brandon

Brandon worked closely with Kathy Hochul at the County Clerk’s office, and she’s got a good reputation for being a hard worker. By contrast, note the surname of Brandon’s opponent, and scroll up to read what I wrote about Tim Kennedy and AwfulPAC. You’ll note a similarity, and you’d be right – they’re related, and they have no business being anywhere near any sort of elected office of any sort. 

I’ll be on with Shredd and Ragan at 7am Tuesday on 103.3 WEDG to talk about how awful all of this is. Whatever you do, please go out and vote!

Zephyr Teachout Attempts to Greet Andrew Cuomo, Shake Hand

8 Sep

Her tenacity is met with a wall of staffers and bodyguards, and a governor who is quite deliberately snubbing her. 

Remember, Democrats: Vote Teachout/Hochul tomorrow!

Democrats: Vote Teachout / Hochul September 9th

3 Sep

Tuesday September 9th is primary day, and Democrats throughout New York State have an important choice to make for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

I’m voting for Zephyr Teachout for Governor, and Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor, and you should, too. 

I am deeply disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s mishandling and abrupt cessation of the Moreland Commission’s investigation into Albany cronyism and corruption. These two topics are, to me, among the most important challenges facing the state today.  The role and power of money in politics, the unmitigated power of incumbency, the dictatorship of Albany authorities and bureaucracies, and the quid-pro-quo legalized bribery of electoral fusion all conspire to keep New York politics dysfunctional, slowly reactionary, and self-indulgent. For this reason, as well as Cuomo’s apparent lies about meddling in the state Senate, I have to register my disgust with the status quo.

These are huge, persistent problems, yet no one in or near power has any incentive to address or change them. Zephyr Teachout has made this the centerpiece of her campaign. 

I don’t do this lightly – my hesitation to denounce Cuomo is informed by how obviously good he’s been for western New York, helping to rebuild the foundation on which a new economy might emerge. We are finally making big leaps into the information age, having long-ago shed our reliance on big industry. We’re also rediscovering the value of skilled trades as an avenue for personal success and entrepreneurship. Having lost the WNY vote to Carl Paladino pretty decisively, Cuomo has paid remarkable attention to our region.  Imagine how good it would be for him to run for national office at some future date, and be able to campaign on how he turned around 50 years of Buffalo’s economic depression. I will enthusiastically vote for Andrew Cuomo in November if he is the party’s nominee. 

Furthermore, the Teachout/Wu ticket is focused on issues that matter only to the 5 boroughs of New York City – risibly so. As the old joke goes, ‘what’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? I don’t know and I don’t care’. Take a look at the five pillars of the Teachout/Wu platform, and the words “Buffalo” and “Western New York” appear exactly zero times. This ticket, as presented, has nothing to say about WNY or upstate issues (except for spotty broadband service and fracking) because they don’t know the first thing about it.  Teachout fumbled questions about keeping the Bills in WNY. Teachout/Wu presents a wide spectrum of points of view about New York State – Upper West and Lower East Side. 

Teachout’s “economy” piece deals mostly with consolidation of power, and the parts about infrastructure deal with the MTA and the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Upstate gets an abrupt shout-out about broadband, but that’s it.  The “education” piece is of general applicability to all of New York, and is replete with positions any Democrat should support – especially when it comes to the shameful way Albany has been balancing budgets on the schools’ backs for several years. On the “environment“, Teachout is the only serious candidate who opposes hydrofracking, full stop. Let Pennyslvania destroy its own aquifers – we like ours just fine, thanks. On “an open democracy“, Teachout talks about reforms that really have little to do with opening up democracy, and talks instead of reforming criminal justice, marijuana laws, and preventing abuse of the disabled. 

But the bigger picture has to do with the way the system itself is rigged – even when it benefits us as western New Yorkers.  It’s simply not being treated like the serious problem it is. That’s why the position on “corruption” is so important to me. The only thing missing – because Working Families Party – is an entry denouncing and promising an end to electoral fusion in New York State. Not incidentally, Teachout has written a scholarly work attempting to prove that embedded in our Constitution is an “anti-corruption principle” every bit as important as, say, separation of powers. 

So, because Teachout’s platform imagines that New York consists – with the exception of the Albany exclave – mainly of territories East of the Hudson and South of Poughkeepsie, I will be voting for Kathy Hochul for Lieutenant Governor. 

Hochul has the administrative and governmental chops to make up for Teachout’s utter lack of experience, and Hochul brings with her a native’s passion and knowledge about rural and western New York realities to help balance out Teachout’s geographically limited platform. Hochul was an independent-minded, conservative Democrat and balances out Teachout’s progressive-left worldview and mindset. Remember – although Teachout is running with Wu and Hochul is running with Cuomo, you can split these slates up however you’d like. Vote Cuomo/Wu, if you prefer. 

This isn’t about conspiratorial fantasies, either. I’m not trying to punish Cuomo for the NY SAFE Act or the dictatorship of the bureaucracy, except insofar as he’s doing nothing to make state bureaucrats answerable (at least indirectly) to their bosses – the people. 

For all the good he’s done for western New York, Andrew Cuomo has deceived Democrats and reformists in this state to the point of outrage. The brazen horse-trading with Senate President Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver to abruptly end the Moreland Commission on corruption was the last straw. No on-time budget is worth sacrificing the public trust yet again. It also speaks to the fundamental anti-democratic unfairness of the continued all-powerful triumverate that presides over Albany’s body politic. Cuomo’s apparent involvement in maintaining a Republican-led Senate is a betrayal made worse by lies

Albany graft and corruption help to stall and demean economic, political, and social progress in every corner of New York State. Teachout deserves support in the upcoming primary because she’s the only candidate who perceives and identifies the problem, and is assigning it the importance it deserves. But Teachout’s political novelty and ignorance about rural and upstate issues demand that the ticket be balanced with someone with experience and a WNY worldview.

Democrats should vote Teachout/Hochul on September 9th. 

Campaign Finance Irregularity Wednesday

23 Jul

Cheers to Steve Pigeon and Kristy Mazurek, who have managed to crowbar their names back into the news. They have either found or manufactured a crisis, accusing Board of Election workers of destroying NYSUT apparatchik Mike Deely’s petitions for county committee.

Is it true? Who knows, but the accusation has been trumpeted, and it’s now Dennis Ward’s and Jeremy Zellner’s problem to unfuck. From Caputo’s PoliticsNY.net

Mike Deely, regional staff director of the New York State United Teachers Union. He’s one of the largest donors to the ECDC over the years and a longtime member of the party’s executive board. Deely recently joined PMB forces, upset with the direction headquarters has taken in the last year.

In the meantime, West Seneca has (naturally) been the epicenter of Pigeon’s and local Conservative Party head Ralph Lorigo.  Steve Casey’s departure from City Hall to become the CEO of the monstrous Scott Congel-led Seneca Mall project underscores the political nature of that project. 

Floridian billionaire Tom Golisano is talking about joining with Congel for the location of the Seneca Mall, near the I-90 and Ridge Road. That land deal has been on simmer since late 2013, at least. 

Pyramid Management Group out of Syracuse have been sniffing around the Seneca Mall since at least last summer.  Look at this August 2013 article from the West Seneca Bee regarding the approval of $50k for town SEQR review of the Seneca Mall site. 

Though not much other detail was offered at Monday night’s Town Board meeting, the board unanimously approved a feasibility study to be performed regarding the proposed development of the former Seneca Mall site at a cost not to exceed $30,000…

…[Town Councilman Eugene P.] Hart said he had just learned of this resolution the day of the vote. Henry said it all came together “pretty quick.” He said the town was required to have the grant application submitted by Aug. 12, hence the need for immediate action.

“It seems very cryptic when you read it,” said Hart. “People will wonder what’s going on.”

[Supervisor Sheila] Meegan said she realized that, but they can’t “spill the beans.”

Hart also told the public that it is the intent of the board to rezone the former Seneca Mall site from industrial to commercial, as per the owner’s request. He said he could not offer much information but did say the proposed development would be a “game-changer” for the town.

Councilman John M. Rusinski said a delicate balance must be struck between the needs of the taxpayers and the needs of the developer. Both he and Hart said the feasibility study is being done in order to protect the interests of the taxpayers.

“Economic development is important to the town,” Rusinski said. “This project is a good thing.”

The Town Board Minutes of October 17, 2013 reflect that Supervisor Meegan made a motion, seconded by Rusinski, to authorize Meegan “to execute an agreement with Camoin Associates to conduct an economic and fiscal analysis for the Seneca Mall site.” 

On the question, Councilman Rusinski stated he agrees with the study but expressed concern about the verbage. He referred to a previously passed resolution which states the dollar amount is not to exceed $30,000, yet an attachment in the agreement shows a fixed fee of $25,000.

Town Engineer Richard Henry responded this was his mistake. The fixed fee language will be removed and the agreement will be amended to read “not to exceed.”
 
Councilman Hart stated he has numerous concerns and commented if this project were to go forward it will be considered huge and impact all of Western New York, yet they do not have a lot of information about the developer. He did not feel they had enough information to go forward at this time and questioned spending $25,000 when there are so many unanswered questions such as infrastructure and sewage.
 
Mr. Henry responded he has spoken with Camoin and they are aware they have to have more information from the developer in order to go forward. Upon approval, Camoin will present the developer with a list of questions. Mr. Henry stated the purpose of the study is to assess the fiscal impacts to get the answers so they can go forward.
 
Councilman Hart suggested the developer provide the town with $25,000 and the town will spend it on their behalf and do the study.
 
Town Attorney Shawn Martin responded the developer should not pay for a study that the town is requesting.
 
Supervisor Meegan stated they will be finding out what the potential is for the town’s investment and whether or not the investment will have a return for taxpayers. She commented that the town has an opportunity to do something and they cannot continue to let the site sit there as it has for so many years. The developer is asking for assistance to pursue a Seneca Place project of 3 million square feet of mixed use buildings, community center, retail, residential, office, hotels, parking, etc. Supervisor Meegan stated this project will not go forward at risk to the Town of West Seneca taxpayers.
 
Councilman Rusinski stated that West Seneca is screaming for economic development and the town has made the mistake of being too idle in the past.  The analysis will provide insight as to whether this type of development has economic potential for West Seneca. He did not feel any board member would put taxpayers at risk.
 
Councilman Hart stated there doesn’t seem to be any involvement by the IDA’s or the development corporation of New York State and he feels there should be more substance with regard to the developer’s marketing and business plan. Councilman Hart questioned how soon information will be provided to the board members and if the recommendations and numbers will be made public at that time.
 
Mr. Henry responded they have a total of 60 days; 30 days to gather the information and another 30 days to compile the information and report back to the town.
 
Mr. Martin stated if the report has an exception with regard to acquiring property or contract negotiations involving costs, information will not be made public.  He will have to see the report before he can make a determination as to whether or not the information provided will be made public at that time.
 
Councilman Hart stated he is ready to discuss the entire project with the public so they are fully aware of what the proposal is. He would like to see the Seneca Mall property developed and is willing to look for his own developer and take the property by eminent domain to acquire a reasonable project.
The motion carried unanimously. Lorigo’s involvement, at minimum, has to do with the fact that his office is located at the Seneca Mall parcel. Why did this come up last summer? Because of what I called the AwfulPAC; the now-defunct “WNY Progressive Caucus” was the Steve Pigeon / Frank Max / Kristy Mazurek effort to disrupt the Democratic Party and defeat certain of its county-level candidates.
 
AwfulPAC benefited from a huge cash injection from nominal Democrat and pro-life-oh-wait-pro-choice Tim Kennedy. But at the time, a singular donation of $25,000 from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 3 was quite puzzling, and no one reported on it. 
 
 
No one understood why it was made, and it’s glaringly odd because a $25,000 donation would have practically emptied the union’s account. The image above is taken from Mazurek’s AwfulPAC 11-day pre-primary filing. By contrast, this is what the Bricklayer’s union’s disclosure shows on its 11-day pre-primary filing: 
 
 
We’re meant to believe that a union with only $28,000 on hand is emptying its account to fund the AwfulPAC? Indeed, a scan of this union local’s intake and outflow shows modest amounts – a few thousand coming in, a few hundred going out. It reports $5,000 to current Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren in its 11-day pre-General. It gave Sean Ryan $500 bucks. Its July 2013 report shows a little over $1,000 to Tim Kennedy, but at no time did the BAC Local 3 report $25,000 to the “WNY Progressive Caucus”, and such an outflow appears on no disclosure report whatsoever
 
So, what’s going on? 
 
 
 
As Pigeon and Mazurek hyperventilate over allegations of supposed petition-destruction – something that despite years and years of open and obvious, internecine Democratic warfare has never happened before – let’s not let them off the hook for their own, more glaring and apparent sloppy campaign finance irregularities. 
 
New York State Democrats’ inability to get out of their own damn way is neither novel nor unique. Witness the spectacle just this week,  as a liberal gubernatorial challenger, Zephyr Teachout, is holding anti-Cuomo press conferences with right-wing Putin lookalike winner Rob Astorino. Hell no.
 
You want to make a point about the shutting down of the Moreland Commission? Do it. You want to call out the governor with his Republican challenger standing next to you? You just lost me. 
 
Here in Erie County, Nick Langworthy has the easiest  job in the world. He doesn’t need to do a thing when he has an endless parade of job-hungry nominal Democrats around to repeatedly sabotage whatever the county committee tries to do. 

LD-3 Democrats Select Savage, Disrespect Females

7 Apr

The Erie County Democratic Committee selected loyal City Hall soldier Peter Savage III to fill the seat that Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli vacated in January. A vote Monday is expected to formalize the recommendation. Here is the press release that went out this past weekend: 

(Buffalo, NY) Democratic committee members in the 3rd Legislative District voted today to recommend Peter J. Savage III to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Lynn Marinelli. Savage currently serves as Senior Deputy Corporation Counsel in the City of Buffalo Department of Law.  He has worked in a number of roles in city government and served on the boards of West Side Neighborhood Housing Services and the Good Government Club of Western New York.

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said, “I would like to congratulate Peter Savage on his decisive victory in today’s vote.  He will bring a wealth of knowledge and passion for his community to county government.  On Monday I am sending a letter to the Erie County Legislature calling on them to appoint Peter quickly.  The people of the 3rd Legislative District deserve representation.  I look forward to working closely with Peter and County Executive Mark Poloncarz to continue moving our party and community forward.”  

When Bob McCarthy wrote about the hand-wringing that’s taken place over the past few months over this, he focused on factionalism; whether Savage is too close to City Hall.  That is far from any reasonable point.  

Under normal circumstances, it would be good form for Democrats to nominate and select a female to replace an outgoing female – not because of any quotas, but because women are generally underrepresented in elective office. The Erie County Legislature has three women remaining in an 11 – person entity. Savage’s entry does nothing to change that. Frankly, because Democrats are supposed to stand for some semblance of gender equality, justice, and fairness, you’d expect that the 3rd District would get it together to recommend one of the qualified females to replace Marinelli. 

Michele Iannello is a veteran of the factional wars, so I can see the committee passing her over, but what about Jennifer Diagostino or Amber Small? You mean to tell me there did not exist one qualified female in the 3rd Legislative District to replace a female legislator? 

This is not to say Savage is unqualified – he surely is. I also don’t much care whether Savage was Deputy Mayor Steve Casey’s right-hand man. The question is one of judgment, and what it means to be a Democrat. 

My problem is that Savage carried Conservative Party petitions for Republican Chris Collins during the 2011 County Executive race against Democrat Mark Poloncarz. He carried petitions for a piece of garbage fusion party that opposes reproductive rights for women, same-sex marriage, and every other social justice item for which Democrats are supposed to stand. He carried those petitions in opposition to a qualified Democratic candidate who had a very difficult race. Some say that sort of thing is just politics as usual; I call it an unforgivable betrayal. 

City Hall was quite open about its support of Collins in 2011 – after all, many of the benefits then-extant legislative coup granting Collins a de facto legislative majority inured to City Hall.  The quo for that quid came about with some Republicans close to Collins reportedly helped Brown against Sergio Rodriguez last year. 

It’s also come to light that Chairman of the Conservative Party – Ralph Lorigo (whose son is a County Legislator) – lobbied the Tonawanda Democratic Committee on Savage’s behalf. The Conservative Party which, when it isn’t busy wielding political influence that it hasn’t really earned, is busy advocating for things Democrats are supposed to hate, like reduction in spending on social programs and education. The tea party, for God’s sake. 

Savage heads up a PAC called the “Committee for Change” and is active in Steve Pigeon’s “Democratic Action”. Board of Election filings reveal that the “Committee for Change” donated to Joe Lorigo, who is a Conservative Party member who caucuses with the Republicans. How, precisely, does “Committee for Change” back Democratic candidates, as claimed, if it’s supporting Conservative candidates? Based on this, what guarantee is there that Savage will caucus with the Democrats at all? 

That’s some change. 

Congratulations seem to be in order for young Mr. Savage. But the Democrats in the 3rd LD should take a good hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whom they’ve become. It’s still a man’s world when a guy who so actively campaigned against the Democratic County Executive can get a nod to replace a female on the county leg. It’s a sick joke that an active supporter of the notorious Conservative Party – which stands against everything the Democrats should – gets an appointment such as this. 

At this rate, I’m shocked that Kathy Weppner wasn’t under consideration. She’s a conservative and a woman, but lives outside that particular district. 

Carl the RINO and Donny’s Shovel

17 Dec

1. Tea Party Champion Carl Paladino: 

Who better to lead a protest than a perpetually incensed, elderly millionaire? What better thing to protest than “socializing” America? Who better to “send a message that RINO’s [sic] who support an elected Democrat…have no place in the…Republican Party”? How about the developer millionaire who was a registered Democrat for 31 years, until 2005, and who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to convenient Democrats who were positioned to help his business goals? He attended a Democrat’s fundraiser just this year. Oh, and this from the Buffalo News

Speaking of Paladino, several of the 2010 Republican candidate for governor’s companies recently dropped $9,000 on Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner’s housekeeping account, according to campaign finance records. This occurs even after Zellner moved Democratic Headquarters out of Paladino’s Ellicott Square.

“I’m supportive of Jeremy’s efforts,” Paladino said last week. “When it comes to good government, it’s what we do. We support both parties’ central operations to do the right thing.”

Who better to lecture Patrick Lee and Anthony Gioia on who is and isn’t a “RINO” than a self-anointed tea party hero who has given thousands of dollars to Democrats in just the past year? 

2. Buffalo News Columnist Donn Esmonde: 

It’s called “objectophilia“. 

As I grasped your handle and cupped your lean, strong shaft of a body in my left hand, I silently celebrated all of the times, over all of the years, we had done this together.

Donn Esmonde, to his snow shovel. I think the shovel swore out an order of protection. 

3. Bonus thing to Read

From the Harvard Business Review, “It’s Not OK That Your Employees Can’t Afford to Eat“. 

It wasn’t that long ago that in most companies, especially large ones, a fair amount of time was spent worrying about whether the company’s practices towards employees were fair. One of the functions of human resource departments was to advocate for the interests of employees.

The motivation wasn’t entirely altruistic. Since WWI, employers figured they could keep unions out by giving employees virtually all of the wage and benefits they would have gotten from joining unions. Even without that concern, though, the leadership of the company considered it part of their job to strike a balance between the other demands on the business and the needs of employees.  They were one of the important stakeholders in the business, along with customers, shareholders, and the community around them…

…A family of four with one breadwinner is eligible for food stamps if they earn less than $2500 per month. That is the equivalent of a $15 per hour job and a 40 hour work week.  The government has determined that full-time workers earning less than that do not have enough money to feed their families on their own. If that breadwinner earns less than $16 per hour, they are also eligible for Medicaid assistance to provide healthcare. Depending on where they live, that breadwinner is also eligible for subsidies to help pay for housing.

Pre-haunting Scrooge is no way to go through life, and no way to run a country. 

Wes Moore c/o Kristy Mazurek?

1 Nov

Michael Caputo’s PoliticsNY.net published some embarrassing 10 year-old information about Democratic LD-8 candidate Wynnie Fisher on Friday. Fisher apparently doesn’t get along with her neighbors, who figured they’d dime her out to her former Democratic primary opponent, Wes Moore. Typical small-town neighbor feud. Fisher’s neighbors sent a letter to Fisher’s Democratic primary opponent, Wes Moore. 

Now, if you wanted to send a letter to Wes Moore, what address would you use? 

Wes Moore’s campaign committee was based (inexplicably enough) in LD-6 – Clarence. 

8940 Main Street is a nondescript office building at Shimerville Road. Essex Homes and some other offices are located there. But when first constituted, Moore’s campaign treasurer listed a Buffalo address: 

Evidently, Nanula’s company is now located in Clarence. In any event, there is nothing to show that Moore’s campaign can be contacted anywhere but Clarence or Buffalo. A Google search doesn’t give up much information. Moore never had a campaign website – only a Facebook page, since closed. 

The WNY Progressive Caucus (which I have dubbed “AwfulPAC”) is now under investigation for campaign irregularities; possible illegalities. Among the myriad accusations that have been lodged is that members of the WNY Progressive Caucus PAC have been “coordinating” with campaign committees, which is against the law. Specifically, it is believed  that Kristy Mazurek of the suspended “2 Sides” WGRZ weekly political program, had simultaneously held positions of some authority within the Rick Zydel and Wes Moore campaigns. Due to some rift between Erie County Democratic chairman Jeremy Zellner, she was going to run legislative candidates to oppose the committee’s own. Only Barbara Miller-Williams was successful. Barely. 

Mazurek co-hosts 2 Sides with PoliticsNY.net publisher Caputo. She also ran media relations for the Shenk for Comptroller campaign, whose internal campaign materials mysteriously appeared on Caputo’s site some weeks ago – months after they ceased to be in any way relevant to anything. 

The primary that kicked Wes Moore out of the race for LD-8 took place the second Tuesday in September. Mazurek’s AwfulPAC was created on August 22nd. By September 7th, she claimed to the Buffalo News that any suggestion that she was coordinating with the Moore campaign was “laughable”

“That’s laughable,” said Mazurek, who denied any official role in any campaigns since the PAC was formed last month.

Mazurek said she volunteers at various campaigns but is involved in no coordination between them and the PAC.

“I can show up as a volunteer or for lit drops or fundraisers,” she said. “But I have been hands off because I know the rules and regulations.

“And I don’t understand these continuing, vicious attacks on Steve Pigeon,” she added. “I’ve never heard such a bunch of crybabies before.”

So, from Mazurek’s own mouth, she hadn’t been “hands-on” with the Moore campaign since August 22nd.  

But, if there had been no coordination – everything “hands-off” – between Mazurek‘s AwfulPAC and the Wes Moore campaign starting on August 22nd, why did the disgruntled neighbors send their “we hate Wynnie Fisher” materials to Mazurek’s house on October 19th

Compare that with this: 

Why is Wes Moore getting mail at non-coordinating “volunteer” Kristy Mazurek’s house? Why did the information then become fodder for a concerted Republican attack just 10 days later? Is Mazurek just a Republican stooge, now

Erie County 2013: Ds, Rs, Is, Cs, Blanks, and EmoDems

1 Aug

Who’s who, what’s what, and what to think about it all. The background is as follows: Jeremy Zellner defeated Frank Max last year in a hotly contested race for chairmanship of the Erie County Democratic Committee – a win that was ultimately challenged in court, where Zellner’s win was upheld. Since then, Max – more often than not aligned with former chairman Steve Pigeon and his small but vocal team of Republicans nominally Democratic contrarians has been cultivating alliances with Republicans and Conservatives, and at times creating chaos for its own sake

The Republican committee is run ably by Nick Langworthy, who has a lot of big-ticket names and hard-fought races under his belt. More importantly, the outnumbered Republicans have aligned themselves in most races with both the Erie County Conservative Party, run by Ralph Lorigo, and the New York State Independence Party, which does not let any local IP organization decide on endorsements. Having three lines, including two cleverly named minor fusion parties, is the only way Republicans can win races countywide, and in certain parts of the county. 

But the most dangerous person for Democrats in western New York is Stefan Mychajliw. The eye-chart name, the boyish good looks and charm, for years you let him into your homes via the teevee, where he donned a red coat and asked “tough questions” because he was on your side. He has parlayed that nightly visit into elected office, where he is relentlessly “reasonably sounding the alarm” on county spending, waste, fraud, and abuse. He knows full well that he has wide and deep appeal to voters, no matter what party affiliation. The comptroller gig is just part of a longer-term goal to attain executive office – Mayor or County Executive – and people know him and like him, regardless of how he’s doing his job. 

COUNTYWIDE

Erie County Comptroller (Stefan Mychajliw, incumbent)

Democratic Regionalism and downsizing activist Kevin Gaughan has taken the place of Lynn Szalkowski, who dropped out of the race shortly after petitioning ended. Gaughan will compete on the Democratic and Working Families lines. Mychajliw will have the Conservative line, but he is being challenged on the Independence Party line by Anthony Dorazio, Jr. 

The venom directed by the chaotic Frank Max EmoDems against Zellner’s recruitment of Szalkowski should be of particular concern. Szalkowski was, on paper, the dream candidate; she is an attractive, youthful female with an ethnic name from the suburbs, whose CPA made her remarkably more qualified for the position than the incumbent. It’s not her fault she dropped out of the race – by all accounts, she is smart, bright, and knew what she was getting into, but personal stresses got in the way of an effective campaign and she had to drop out. It’s frankly none of anybody’s business what those stresses were, but there was a great deal of hatred spewn at her and at Zellner when she departed the race – and it was done by people who are either named “Mychajliw” or so close to his campaign that Zellner could have recruited Jesus Christ, CPA and they still would have backed Stef. “Disingenuous” isn’t strong enough for their wailing. 

But more importantly, Szalkowski is exactly the sort of person any political party should want to attract to public office. Smart people who enter politics know they’re in for a tough go, but she was unfairly and viciously attacked. Suggesting that the party perpetrated some sort of petition fraud is laughable. They really wanted her.

Now, we have Kevin Gaughan – a person who, unlike Mychajliw, has a genuine record of accomplishing the unthinkable – shrinking of the size of government in western New York. A lawyer, Gaughan has devoted years to make the region and city run smarter and more efficiently. Would Gaughan run his office by press release, and send auditors to trick custodians into unlocking rooms to grab DSS records from a secure subbasement location in the Rath Building to score political points? Doubtful. 

Dorazio is a local IP member who is sick of the downstate people selecting Republicans (almost exclusively) to run on that line. 

Erie County Sheriff (Tim Howard, incumbent)

Richard Dobson is a former deputy, and is backed by the Max/Pigeon EmoDems faction. Bert Dunn is scion to the Bert’s Bikes empire, formerly the Dunn Tire empire, and is a current Sheriff’s Deputy. It’s been alleged that the EmoDems have teamed up with incumbent Tim Howard to use Dobson as a pawn. Dobson is similar in almost every way to the last two Democrats who challenged Howard and lost.

By contrast, Dunn is young, he’s currently on the force, knows the issues that exist on the force as it stands now, and is a centrist Democrat who has crossover appeal. Republican Tim Howard, who is running for his third term as county sheriff, has endured a string of high-profile embarrassments and scandals from the Department of Justice review of the holding centers, the Ralph “Bucky” Phillips escape from a county jail, the botched search for Joan Diver, etc. Howard will have the Conservative and Independence line, and Dunn will have the Working Families Line. 

COUNTY LEGISLATURE

Certain races will be closely watched because it takes one seat to flip the Democratic majority into a Republican one. That one seat doesn’t necessarily mean a Republican pickup, by the way – there are at least four nominal “Democrats” vying for a seat, any one or all of whom would gladly strike a deal to share power with the Republicans, just like under Barbara Miller-Williams period of dysfunction and collaboration

District 1 (Timothy Hogues, incumbent)

Hogues will have the Working Families line, but he is being challenged on the Democratic line by… 

…wait for it…

Barbara Miller-Williams. No joke. No one has the Republican or Conservative nod. Miller-Williams has backing from people close to City Hall, and the chaotic Max/Pigeon EmoDems. Hogues defeated Miller-Williams last time around because she used her position to align herself with Chris Collins and the Republicans on the legislature, effecting a Republican coup of that body. The result was devastating for her constituents, as Collins defunded clinics and other resources on which the community depended. Hogues is chairman of the public safety committee and has helped to restore all the Collins cuts to libraries, rodent control, and a soon to open clinic on Broadway. Hogues is a rising star in the party and someone to watch. 

District 2 (Betty Jean Grant, incumbent)

Democrat Grant came extremely close to upsetting Democratic State Senator Tim Kennedy during last year’s primary, mostly thanks to an aggressive write-in campaign. It shows that Grant has a very strong and motivated base of support. Joyce Wilson Nixon is challenging Grant for the Democratic line in September. Betty Jean will have the Working Families line.  No one has the Republican or Conservative nod. Nixon’s husband works in City Hall, and she runs the National Inner Cities Youth Opportunities nonprofit, which receives public money to help at-risk youth. 

District 3 (Lynn Marinelli, incumbent)

Attorney Jennifer Stergion is running on the Republican and Conservative lines, while Marinelli has the Democratic and Working Families lines. The two will square off in September in an Independence Party primary. Marinelli is one of the hardest working people in county government, and is an effective, likeable, relentless candidate. 

District 4 (Kevin Hardwick, incumbent)

Hardwick will run on the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party lines. A Democrat named Bill Conrad is running on the Democratic and Working Families lines. Conrad is a relative unknown outside of Kenmore and Tonawanda, but he is a teacher at Ken West, an unenrolled voter, and is very active in extracurricular sports in the town. He is very smart and will need to work extremely hard to unseat the well-known and popular Canisius professor. 

District 5 (Tom Loughran, incumbent)

Loughran has staked out a bit of a reputation for independence during his legislative tenure, and will be challenged in November by Republican Amherst Highway Superintendent Bob Anderson. Anderson and Loughran both submitted petitions for the Independence Party line. Anderson will have the Republican line, while Loughran has the Democratic line. Someone submitted “opportunity to ballot” petitions for the Working Families line, and a Christopher Fellows is challenging Loughran in a primary for the Conservative line.  Loughran will have to run hard, as it is a tough district, but his independent streak and no-nonsense demeanor should do well for him. 

District 6 (Ed Rath, incumbent)

Rath will have the Republican, Conservative, and Independence nods while Clarence resident Alan Getter submitted Democratic petitions. Getter is unenrolled and needs a Wilson-Pakula to run on the (D) line. A Clarence resident, Getter is a CPA and small business owner who is active in the community. Ed Rath is Ed Rath. 

The Frank Max Faction MascotDistrict 7 (Tom Mazur, incumbent)

Mazur is not seeking re-election, and he has endorsed Democrat Lynn Dearmyer to replace him. Dearmyer primaried Mazur in 2009 and lost. Former Cheektowaga town councilman Rick Zydel is challenging Dearmyer for the Democratic nod.

Zydel has the backing of the Max/Pigeon chaos faction. In fact, Zydel announced that he would run a primary campaign against the incumbent Mazur, the legislative majority leader. Obviously, that’s not going to go over well at Democratic HQ. So, when Mazur decided not to run – mere days before petitioning was to begin – HQ wasn’t inclined to call an endorsement meeting, and an open primary ensued. Zellner says, “not one committeeman” has called him to “express outrage at this.” Incidentally, as to Zydel’s alleged popularity in Cheektowaga, he most recently lost re-election to the town council to (of all things) a Republican. 

Pat Burke, a South Buffalo native who recently ran for a seat on the common council – and lost  – is also running as a Democrat, leaving a 3-way primary in September.  Elias Farah, who appears to be a tea party type, is running on the Republican and Independence lines. Zydel has the Conservative nod, and also submitted petitions for the Working Families line.  

District 8 (Terry McCracken, incumbent)

McCracken is not seeking re-election. Democrat Wes Moore is backed by the Frank Max / Steve Pigeon Democratic faction. Ted Morton is running on the Republican line. Wynnie Fisher is a teacher who is also running as a Democrat, and Morton has the Conservative line.  As in the case of Zydel, Moore announced before McCracken decided he was out. Moore never contacted Democratic Headquarters or Jeremy Zellner directly, except to send an email to a generic “info@” email address asking when his endorsement meeting would be held. None was held. It should be noted that WGRZ 2-Sides cohost Kristy Mazurek is Moore’s and Zydel’s campaign manager. Query why Mychajliw would have felt the need to abandon the show when he ran for public office, yet the Democrat on the show feels no similar ethical obligation to do so, going so far as to attempt to ridicule an opponent on Facebook who wasn’t interested in going on the show. 

Like Zydel, Miller-Williams – and to a lesser degree Nixon – are potential candidates to flip the legislature to one that is friendly to the Republican minority, resulting in a de facto Republican majority. Anyone who remembers the Barbara Miller-Williams legislature knows what that would look like. The only difference now is that Chris Collins is nowhere to be seen. 

District 9 (Lynne Dixon, incumbent)

Former WGRZ journalist Dixon is a member of the Independence Party who caucuses with the Republicans in the legislature. She is being challenged by Democrat Mike Schraft, who also has the Working Families line. Dixon has the Conservative line, and is being challenged by Brian Burke for the Independence Party nomination. Schraft is a military guy with a background at the State Department, specifically dealing with development and budget issues in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Washington. Burke is related to Pat Burke, as seen above in the 7th District Race. 

District 10 (Joe Lorigo, incumbent)

Lorigo is a member of the Conservative Party, led locally by his father, who caucuses with the Republicans in the legislature. Lauren M. Gray is a young law school graduate awaiting her bar exam results, has the Working Families line, and is challenging Lorigo for the Independence nod. Democratic Headquarters is proud to have five female candidates, three of whom have never before run for office. Lorigo is seen as vulnerable and a possible (D) pickup, due to the fact that he doesn’t enjoy a wide base of support and has done little. 

District 11 (John Mills, incumbent)

Mills is running unopposed. Can you believe that? 

Questions/comments & hate mail: buffalopundit[at]gmail.com

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Same As It Ever Was

15 Apr

1. This morning, Channel 4 kept teasing a story about pop idol Justin Bieber having written or said something inappropriate at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Curious, I Googled it.  It was about as dismissively disrespectful as you’d expect from a boy who dresses like this to meet the Canadian Prime Minister. I then turned the channel, because teasing a story in this day and age insults my intelligence. 

2. Western New York Democrats are divided into factions. This is newsworthy because a Cheektowaga political club has endorsed a neighboring city’s caretaker Mayor. Bob McCarthy is here to tell us this, and to transcribe what people have to say about it, and leaves us with a quip from more than 10 years ago. Insightful!

3. Donn Esmonde has wonderful things to say about the positive effects of the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus. Except when it comes to maintaining, e.g., the Trico factory as a Maquiladora memorial. 

4. You know the relentless marketing blitz for that “Shen Yun” dance thing you’ve seen everywhere now for the past few months? It’s propaganda for a cult. One that’s been brutally oppressed by the Chinese Communists, but a cult nonetheless. 

5. A letter-writer to the News makes the case for Paladino’s ulterior motive in running for the Buffalo Board of Education. You knew there had to be one. 

6. Stop picking up “WNY Family” Magazine at your local pediatrician’s office, supermarket, or day care. Someone wrote a completely false and misleading article alleging that Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, is dangerous. Every medication comes with risks, but contracting the very contagious human papilloma virus increases a girl’s risk of eventually suffering from a variety of cancers. Here is the body count for the anti-vax paranoia movement. The author stands by the story, so that paper is dead to me. 

7. Surprise! Indefinite detention of people, kept incommunicado and without trial or charge at a third-world military base might engender some bad results. America should put these people on trial or release them to their home countries. It’s long since time that they could have legally been tried within our regular criminal system. Guantanamo Bay is the most un-American thing we’ve ever maintained for this long, and all it is now is a recruitment device for more terrorists. I’m not saying these are all great people whom we should release on the streets of Miami with a driver’s license and $500 cash. I’m saying there are right ways and wrong ways to deal with criminals or terrorists. Indefinitely detaining them without trial or charge is a “wrong way”. It is a massive national shame and goes against every single thing we purport to stand for; it violates everything we’re supposedly protecting by maintaining it.  

In other news, Spring might actually arrive this week.